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Jackie Clay

Boy did we get clobbered by snow!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

David shoveling a trail to the truck and generator shed

You know that storm that was heading for us?  Well it got here.  And how!  Saturday night it started.  Then by Sunday morning, we had a foot and the snow was still falling heavily.  Just think, Saturday morning I was in my garden, looking at the nice soil, with the frost nearly all gone out of it, thinking that I could begin tilling it the next day.  My multiplier onions were starting to poke up, looking nice, green and lush.

David hung the plow back on the Ford truck Sunday, and started plowing our driveway.  Unfortunately, it never did get cold and the ground was muddy under the snow.  And the snow was heavy and wet.  You know how it is when you shovel heavy wet snow?  It won’t come off the shovel and each shovel weighs a ton?  Same deal with the snow plow.  It just didn’t plow worth a darn and the drive was a mire.  He didn’t dare drop the plow all the way down or he would have thrown off a whole lot of gravel and dirt with the snow.

Then he was trying to shove snow off the drive in some open spots, to get rid of it; the drive gets awfully narrow when you plow this kind of snow because it doesn’t throw off into the woods.  Well in one of those spots was a spring he’d forgotten about and he dropped the front of the truck into it, right down to the plow frame.

Me shoveling off the truck so David can go plowing

Luckily he had his cell phone with him and he called me, asking me to bring the old blue truck to pull him out.  To make a long story short, it drive was too icy and he was stuck too badly.  No dice.

So back home we went to get the dozer, our last hope.  Fortunately, it started and I followed him back to the truck.  He lined the dozer’s blade up with the truck’s plow and shoved it back out of the spring.  Even with the dozer, it had to snort to push that hard.  Whew!

This morning it was still snowing.  We now have over 26″ on the ground; all wet, heavy snow over mud.  David plowed for neighbors and friends today, as well as doing our drive again.  But bad luck dogged us again; he found he has two cracks in the transmission housing!  Oh chiching!  $$$$$  OUCH.  I felt like going to bed and pulling the covers over my head.  And it’s still snowing…….

Readers’ questions:

Saving seeds

Dear Jackie,
I just became a subscriber to your magazine and I really have learned a lot from your blog.  My girlfriend and I have been growing a large garden for two years and we save our own seed (ex. beans okra pumpkin ect…) but my question is how do you save seed from vegetables like carrots, onions, beets, and cabbage? Thanks for you advice.

Challis Moffitt
Ramseur, NC

To save seeds from these vegetables, you just have to overwinter the “mother” plants in a cold, dark root cellar or unheated corner of the basement.

Then in the spring, just plant them outside and watch them grow.  They’ll then make seed.  But don’t expect the mother plants to look like they did the year before.  Carrots look “wild”, beets rank and cabbages strange as the send up a seed stalk.  Just let them do their thing and give them good care.  You’ll get your seed in abundance.  Enjoy! — Jackie

Keeping hens in Winter

I have a question for you about chickens. We raise a mixed flock of turkeys, ducks and meat chickens each summer, but we don’t keep any over the winter for eggs. I’d like to keep a couple of egg layers, but I’m wondering how many is the minimum number to keep each other warm over our northern Minnesota winters. We do have electricty available in our pole barn, but I’d prefer not to have to run a heat lamp all winter long. Also, do you have a suggestion for the best type of coop for just a few hens?

Carmen Griggs
Bovey, MN

You’re right in that you’ll need at least half a dozen hens to provide enough body heat to keep them warm enough over winter.  And even with that number, you’ll need to provide a relatively small,insulated coop
so that so few chickens will stay warm enough.  If you insulate and build a small coop, say five feet by 6 feet and with a low ceiling, they should remain comfortable.  In addition, it’d be a good idea to keep a light bulb in the coop.  Not a heat lamp, but just a plain incandescent bulb.  Not only will it give heat and not kill your pocketbook, but it will fool the hens’ bodies into thinking there are longer days and make them lay eggs despite winter.

You can let the “girls” out of the coop on milder days and just shut them in at night.  They seem to do  well this way and enjoy a stroll in the sunshine. — Jackie

Canning beef

I have a black angus cow that we just had too butcher. We only had a pocket knife and a sawsall to work with. It was eather kill it or have it run over on the road. We could not keep it in the field. You would think that with close to a hundred achers finced it would not be a problem. Now The meet didn’t hang and it dosn’t taste like beef, is there any way too can it and use it later and have it taste better? I have plenty of jar and 2 large canners with gages so canning is not a problem. thanks

Brenda Jarrell
Varnville, South Carolina

Yes, you can sure can up that meat.  The best way I’ve found is to partially precook the meat, browning it, either as steaks, roast slices or stewing beef.  The ground meat is also browned first.  You can add some spices, but beware of adding too much as it gets stronger with processing.  I think you’ll find your beef tastes just fine that way and will provide a whole lot of meals for your family.

Precooked meat is processed at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.  I add enough broth to just cover the meat, leaving an inch of headroom in the jar.  (If you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet, consult your canning manual for instructions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude. — Jackie

3 Responses to “Boy did we get clobbered by snow!”

  1. Elly Phillips Says:

    Yow, Jackie, 26 inches and a cracked transmission!!! I feel your pain!!!! Just trying to shovel wet, heavy snow by hand down here is enough to bring tears to my eyes. And even at its worst, we seldom get more than a foot–18 inches is about the max. Hope it melts soon!!!

  2. m.d. creekmore Says:

    I love reading your blog and I enjoy Backwoods Home Magazine. Thank you for the great advice, it is always top rate.

  3. Bonnie Bell Says:

    Oh Jackie, I feel for you. When you just think it will be time to finally get your hands dirty tilling or planting something and WHAM!! Well when it all melts and dries up you will surely be glad for that moment and when the tiller hums and the birds sing and the sun shines, there isn’t a better moment, except for the planting and well then the harvesting… hang in there…And David, I guess you won’t forget the spring and that spot next year!!

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